About Us

What We Do

Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and well being of girls and women. Our vision is that all girls and women experience equality, independence, and safety in their everyday lives. To that end, our mission is to create opportunities, develop programs, and provide services that empower them. Since day one, Hardy Girls programming, resources and services have been powered by the latest research in girls' development. Much of that research comes from the work of Hardy Girls co-creator and board member, Lyn Mikel Brown. Read Dr. Brown's keynote address Cultivating Hardiness Zones for Adolescent Girls. (PDF: 86k)

Although many, if not most, national programs designed to support girls in the past 15 years have focused on self-esteem and other internal, psychological issues, HGHW is one of the few programs that addresses girls'lives in relational and social contexts. We believe that it is not the girls, but rather the culture in which they live that is in need of repair. The developmental psychology concept of "hardiness" shifts attention from the individual to their environment-families, schools, and community organizations- as the key agents of change in girls' lives.

Our goal is to connect girls to these environments, while transforming their surroundings into safer havens. By providing parents, teachers, and community members with as many possible resources and skills available to us, we first raise awareness about their capacity to serve as agents of change, and then enlist their action.

We see girls not as the sum of any particular pathology (self-cutting, disordered eating, drug use) or struggle (body image, self-esteem, early sexual activity), but as whole beings living within and affected by a variety of social systems. With increased control in their lives, greater challenge from adults, and closer commitment to their communities, girls will and do thrive. We are connecting with the field of positive youth development that envisions individuals as potential change agents within their schools and communities.

Overall, the purpose of our work is to create a more equitable culture that meets the different needs of girls and boys. We do so by engaging and educating our communities and by empowering youth with new opportunities for control, commitment, and challenge in their lives. To that end, we encourage all youth to continue the ultimate struggle to create healthier societies in a world in which we all are valued for who we are and what we contribute.

Awards and Recognition

In May 2012, Karen Heck, HGHW Co-Creator, was awarded the Statewide Advocate Award by the Maine Children's Trust at their 2012 Annual Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Recognition Awards.

In May 2012, Kristin Bishop, a HGHW Girls Advisory Board (GAB) member, was appointed by Gov. Paul LePage to serve as a student representative on the Maine State Board of Education. Kristin begins her two-year term in June 2012 as one of only two student representatives on the board. Kristin will represent Maine's 2nd Congressional District on the board. The Maine State Board of Education advises the commissioner of education on matters concerning state education laws and makes education policy recommendations to the legislative and executive branches of state government.

In April 2012, Maya Brown, 2011-12 Girls Advisory Board (GAB) President, was the recipient of the Youth Philanthropist of the Year Award from Maine Association of Nonprofits and Colby College.

In June 2011, Jackie Dupont, Vice President of Research and Program Development for Hardy Girls Healthy Women was honored with the Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN) Impact Award for her work empowering girls.

In 2010, Hardy Girls Healthy Women was presented with a 2010 Governor's Award for Nonprofit Excellence at the Annual Colby Institute for Leadership Luncheon at Colby College.  The award was presented by the Maine Association of Nonprofits to the six Maine nonprofit organizations that have achieved significant results by utilizing ingenuity combined with sound management practices.

Governor Baldacci said, “This year’s honorees represent the innovative spirit that has earned Maine a reputation for top quality workmanship, service and a commitment to excellence. Each company selected has an incredibly strong record of community service and workforce investment. I am proud to honor them all as distinguished members of our community.”

In 2010, Tobi Schneider, HGHW board member, was recognized by Colby College and the Maine Philanthropy Center as Central Maine Philanthropist of the Year for her years of work in the central Maine community, including having been with Hardy Girls Healthy Women since the start.

In 2010, HGHW's President, Megan Williams, was awarded the first ever Open Door Award by the Frances Perkins Center, an award given to a woman under 30 who has demonstrated exceptional leadership.

In 2009, HGHW's President, Megan Williams, was listed in the Mainebiz Next List, a list of ten amazing people who are shaping the future of Maine's economy.

In 2009, Lyn Mikel Brown Ed.D., HGHW Co-Creator, was awarded the New diMensions Award with Mark Tappan, Ed.D. by Boys To Men, a non-profit whose mission is to reduce interpersonal violence by offering programs that support the healthy development of adolescent boys, located in Portland, ME.

In 2008, Karen Heck, HGHW Co-Creator, was inducted into the Maine Women's Hall of Fame. The Maine Women's Hall of Fame, held in March in observance of Women's History Month, takes place at the University of Maine at Augusta and is dedicated to women whose achievements have had a significant statewide impact and have significantly improved the lives of women in Maine and whose contributions have an enduring value for women.

In 2006, Karen Heck, HGHW Co-Creator, was awarded the Maine Statewide AAUW Achievement Citation Award, the highest award for extraordinary community involvement in women's issues.

In 2006, Lyn Mikel Brown Ed.D., HGHW Co-Creator, was awarded the Maine International Film Festival's GAL (Groundbreaking Activist Leadership) Award for Ugly Ducklings, a cutting edge multi-media program designed to educate and inspire people to take action against bias-based bullying and harassment gay and lesbian youth.

In 2005, Lyn Mikel Brown Ed.D., HGHW Co-Creator, was awarded the Sarah Orne Jewett Award in Portland, ME. The award is given to outstanding women by The Maine Women's Fund.

In 2002, Hardy Girls Healthy Women's fabulous Co-Creators, Karen Heck, Lyn Mikel Brown and Lynn Cole, won the Business and Professional Women's Women of the Year Award. Each year these awards are given to women who are outstanding in their work and/or in helping other women and families.